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Harley Street is a street in London which has come to be closely associated with the practice of medicine, though no one is exactly sure why. The concentration of medical professionals on Harley Street started out at an average level, and then, for no apparent reason, doctors started flocking to the area. By the time of the Second World War, 1,500 medical practitioners could be found there, and “Harley Street” meant “quality medicine.” This concept endures today; Harley Street has an incredibly high concentration of private clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities.
This street was established by Edward Harley in the 1700s, before falling into the hands of the de Walden family, which continues to administer it today. The Howard de Walden estate is considered by some to be a form of feudal landlord, controlling Harley Street's properties, rents, and appearance. However, some people have suggested that the presence of such landlords in London has helped to preserve the history of the area, and to revitalize struggling neighborhoods.
Harley Street houses a number of private clinics where patients can go for anything from plastic surgery to cancer treatment. Doctors with offices on Harley Street offer a wide range of services including psychiatry, dentistry, obstetrical care, surgery, pediatrics, and an assortment of other specialties. In addition to being utilized by citizens of England, Harley Street is also popular with patients all over the world, who travel to the site for the best medical care money can buy.
In addition to housing over 3,000 medical professionals, Harley Street is also home to Queen's College, a very old and respectable British girl's school which was the first girl's school to earn a royal charter. Some very notable women in British history have graduated from Queens, and a number of prominent members of British society have lived in and around Harley Street, including notable politicians and artists.
People who travel to Harley Street for care typically receive a recommendation from their private practitioners, although may actively seek out specific doctors with practices on Harley Street. In response to growing numbers of foreign patients, Harley Street hosts a number of hotels, guest houses, and restaurants for the convenience of people who wish to use its services. It is also possible to find pathology labs, dental fabrication facilities, prosthetics developers, and other businesses which support medical practitioners on Harley Street.